Civil Exchange published The Big Society Audit 2012 in May 2012 – the first comprehensive assessment of how far community empowerment, social action and the opening up public services is being achieved. The Big Society Audit 2013 is also available now.
The 2012 Audit found genuine public interest in getting involved in local issues and in supporting charities but also a ‘Big Society gap’ between deprived and affluent communities, with cuts in public sector support for charities hitting hardest in the most deprived communities that needed that support the most. The report also identified a lack of buy in to the Government’s goals as a significant obstacle and an implicit bias toward the private sector in the commissioning of public services. It recommended that the Government engage much more closely with the voluntary sector as a key partner to forge common goals, ensure the sector has the right support and giving fair access to Government contracts.
The Audit brings key data together to measure how far, in practice, a genuine transfer of power from government to civil society is taking place. Civil Exchange carried out the Audit in collaboration with the independent research organisation, Democratic Audit, and the social policy communications agency, DHA. The Big Society Audit 2012 was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.